Gaddafi's Son Makes His First Court Appearance

Gaddafi's Son Makes His First Court Appearance

Colonel Gaddafi's son Saif al Islam has appeared in court in Libya for the first time since his capture more than a year ago.

He is accused of meeting an International Criminal Court (ICC) lawyer Melinda Taylor and of being 'involved' with an ICC delegation.

Ms Taylor was arrested and detained for three weeks after meeting al Islam and has since said it proved he could not receive a fair trial in Libya for war crimes and that he should instead be tried at The Hague.

In 2011 UN Security Council resolution 1970 directed Libya to co-operate fully with the ICC in its investigations into Col Gaddafi's violent suppression of civilian demonstrations.

But former rebels in Libya reportedly want the trial to be held in their country where al Islam is more likely to face the death penalty. At the Hague he could only be given a prison sentence.

"He is charged with involvement with the ICC delegation which is accused of carrying papers and other things related to the security of the Libyan state," said Taha Baara, a spokesman for the prosecutor.

ICC defence lawyers said the court hearing in Zintan - a part of Libya where the authorities in Tripoli have little influence - was intended to bully the International Court.

"This is yet another disgraceful attempt by Libya to manipulate and intimidate the ICC," said Ben Emmerson, lawyer for Abdullah al Senussi, Gadaffi's former spy chief and al Islam's co-accused.

"It is proof of the urgent and imperative need for the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Libya for its flagrant, deliberate and grave violations of Security Council resolution 1970."

Baara said the Zintan tribunal would reconvene on May 2.

"Investigations for trying him for war crimes are over and he will be put on trial for that at a later time," Baara said.

Libya has hired human rights lawyers to argue before ICC judges it would give al Islam and al Senussi a fair trial and should be allowed to do so.

Libya has pledged to go along with the ICC's final decision, whatever it may be.